Tomorrow sees the limited theatrical release of my first feature film, Shangri-La Suite. It tells the story of two lovers-on-the-run during the summer of 1974. Their names: Jack Blueblood and Karen Bird. Their aim: to kill Elvis Presley. It stars Emily Browning, Luke Grimes, Avan Jogia and Ron Livingston (as the King). Burt Reynolds narrates. The trailer can be seen here. Justin Gage, the man behind Aquarium Drunkard (and my good friend), served as the project’s music supervisor. Justin has been kind enough to offer me a platform here, leading up to the film’s release, where I can write about some of the artists and tracks that inspired our movie and helped shape its creation. – Eddie O’Keefe

elvis-19692I don’t recall hearing Elvis Presley for the first time because as far back as I can remember he’s always just been there. Ubiquitous. Undying. Elemental and fixed. Though I’ve never asked my folks about it, I can almost guarantee the first song I ever heard; three days old — idiotic and drooling, terrified and awe-struck by this strange, new, incandescent world — was something sung by Elvis. And if I know my old man, I’d also wager it was a track recorded between 1968 and 1971; something in that sad, sweet, smooth, easy era in the afterglow of the Comeback Special. Though maybe that’s just my own bias speaking — it definitely could have been a Sun cut too, or one of Elvis’s soulful seventies hymns. It’s just that I’ve always found the King’s mid-tempo, late-sixties tracks to be among his most soothing and relatable; confident and melodic and pure. To me, those songs — “Don’t Cry Daddy,” “Mary In The Morning,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — sound like home. They sound like my family. And this song in particular, a cover of Neil Diamond’s “And The Grass Don’t Pay No Mind,” reminds me of my childhood. It’s also a song that I could see Jack and Karen, the love-drunk protagonists of Shangri-La Suite, listening to on their long road trip west. There’s a sense of freedom and possibility to it. It sounds like a sunny afternoon with nowhere to be.

Elvis Presley :: And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind

dylan_Dylan Golden Aycock has been running the Scissor Tail Editions label out of Tulsa, OK for several years now, releasing treasures both old (Bruce Langhorne’s incredible Hired Hand soundtrack) and new (Chuck Johnson’s masterful Blood Moon Boulder). Aycock steps out from behind the scenes for Church of Level Track, his debut full-length, and ably proves himself worthy company for the artists he’s showcased in the past. Indeed, in the album’s seven tracks, you can hear an extremely pleasing blend of Langhorne’s widescreen Americana and the Takoma School leanings of Johnson, with a few more tasty ingredients thrown into the mix. Each song is a jewel box of subtly shifting textures and moods centered on Aycock’s expert fingerpicking, and layered with dreamy pedal steel drifts, percussive touches and interlocking arrangements. Church of Level Track switches between crystal clear visions of the country and pleasingly disorienting and dissonant moments, Aycock guiding us through the journey with a sure hand. An album that keeps on giving. words / t wilcox

Dylan Golden Aycock :: Lord It Over


“You’re moving so fast, but baby you know not where”. – Wings, “Wild Life”

I’m Bored, a mixtape courtesy of our friend Jess Rotter, whose new book of illustrations by the same name was just published via Hat & Beard Press. Jess, in her own words, below.

This collection of jams is set on turtle speed, so please don’t get bored. Instead, embrace the tone and enjoy the moment. Pour something groovy in a glass, smoke whatever you got around, and dim the lights. I always found these gems equally gutting and beautiful, best listened to alone on high blast laying down, reflecting on life’s daily “mishegas”. OH-and bonus if you can, ditch the device.

I’m Bored – A Mixtape (external link, zipped folder)


Recently, science fiction author Jack Womack took a break from his near constant political watchdogging to tweet a quick reminder:

“I don’t believe in Flying Saucers; I do believe in people who believe in them.”

The tweet was more than just an offhand clarification. It’s something of a defining statement from Womack, and necessary to make clear because he recently compiled a definitively titled book, Flying Saucers Are Real, for Anthology Editions. An exhaustive catalog of his sprawling collection of UFO literature, the book is an examination of UFO culture in its many permutations. But for Womack, it’s never been about the saucers themselves so much as the people who’ve seen them.

“I’m interested in the innermost workings of people who believe in [UFOs],” Womack says from his home in New York City. “I want to know what led someone to believe in them and why it’s such an archetypal fantasy.”


Diversions, a recurring feature on AD, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing. For this installment (Halloween appropriate) we catch up with Zig Zags‘ Jed Maheu as he runs down a brief history of rocknroll’s boogeyman mascots. All hail the Boognish.


When I was growing up outside of Portland, Oregon I had a babysitter named Randy. He was your typical 80’s hesher. He gave me cassette tapes of early Def Lepard, Ozzy Osbourne and even Eddie Murphy’s Raw. His older buddies drove Novas and sometimes they would come pick us up in the trailer park we lived in and drive us to the Clackamas River. There was a spot called there called High Rocks where everyone used to party. While the older guys hung out with chicks and smoked weed and drank, I would try to entertain them by jumping off the rocks into the water. One time I was standing on the bridge overlooking the water and some dick on a BMX ala Over The Edge tried to mow me down. Randy reached out and grabbed me by my shirt and yanked me out the way. “That’s not cool fuckhead! He’s just a kid” Randy said to the dick. Years later when trying to come up with a name for the Zig Zags mascot, Randy just seemed like the perfect handle for our version of Eddie. I hope the real Randy is doing good these days, as that was a long time ago, but in his honor he has been re-imagined as a skull faced, metal/punk hybrid from the other side — and although a frightening visage, he’s ultimately a force for good against the evils of anyone not willing to have a good time. Below, Randy joins Heaven’s Gate.

This is the story of the other “mascots” that have influenced Randy over the years . . .

Lux Interior: inter-dimensional, pan-sexual, time-traveling rock & roll alien. And radio host. As Halloween draws nigh we’re revving up for our annual airing of The Purple Knif Show, the one-off radio program hosted by Lux in 1984 deep in the bowels of Hollywood. As master of ceremonies, Lux runs through his personal archives spinning the weird ranging from rockabilly and garage to early punk, campy novelty and exotica. His bag of tricks was the best. So go ahead, “get out your magic decoder rings, boys and girls…” Trick or treat.

itascaGiven the time of year, the temptation with Itasca’s Open To Chance is to call it the perfect autumnal soundtrack. But the truth is, it would sound just as good had it been released in April, or July or February. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Kayla Cohen has been releasing spare acoustic music under the Itasca moniker for a few years now; for her Paradise of Bachelors debut she’s recruited a supporting band, including Dave McPeters whose gorgeous pedal steel playing provides a perfect counterpoint to Cohen’s intricate fingerpicking patterns.

The album nods in the direction of the classic Laurel Canyon sound of the early 1970s — Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Judee Sill — while also incorporating a distinctly Britfolk vibe, recalling the intimate pastoralism of Bridget St. John or Nick Drake. Cohen’s voice rarely rises above a whisper, but it’d be a mistake to describe it as “wispy,” I think. There’s a power and authority to every moment here, whether it’s the wide-eyed reverie of “Buddy” or the heavy fog that seems to drift across the sonic landscape of “Bonafide.” words / t wilcox

Itasca :: Buddy

rvSeveral years ago, I discovered that MV & EE held the distinction of being the Most Represented Artist in my record collection, nudging out previous record-holders The Fall. I confess this not to assert my authority when it comes to MV & EE music, but to sympathize with those curious listeners who are perhaps intimidated by an enormous and overwhelming discography, not knowing the way “in.” To those listeners I say Root/Void is the entry point, not merely because it encapsulates almost all of the myriad styles, strengths, and charms of this long-running duo (it does), but because it is one of the most compelling, imaginative, and unique modern psychedelic records made by anyone in recent memory.

Over the years, Matt “MV” Valentine has sharpened his instantly recognizable production style to a fine point, and Root/Void is nothing if not a feat of production; the album is a showcase for MV’s cauldron of sound, at once meticulously layered and dubwise deep. Fans of collage-style trips from Anthem of The Sun to Twin Infinitives will find layers to untangle and unravel here, while appreciators of the band’s homegrown melding of Comes A Time-era Neil with microtonal bummer blues can add “Much Obliged” and “Feel Alright” to their list of indispensable MV & EE alternate reality “hits.” Elsewhere, the thick layers of field recordings, disembodied voices, stoned guitar and buzzin’ fly synthesizer of “I’m Still In Love With You Love > Void” posits a Hudson Valley version of the dusted musique concrete of Daevid Allen’s Gong.

It’s an open secret among MV & EE diehards that the albums that most prominently feature Erika “EE” Elder are often the group’s best, and Root / Void is an “EE” album the way Washing Machine is a “Kim” album; Elder’s vocals and keening lap steel guitar haunt the album’s every unexpected turn, threading together spacey tremolo-damaged guitar, decrepit drum machine, and tabla fog, the north (dark) star above MV’s currents, ripples, and waves. Rumor has it Root / Void ran well over deadline and well over budget, which alone doesn’t place it alongside hard-won masterpieces like Tusk and Loveless; the fact that it is just as singular, insane, and beautiful as those once-in-a-lifetime works, however, makes it more than welcome in such conversations. Sleepers, awake! words / j jackson toth

Related: Every Sound Means Something: Wooden Wand Interviews Matt “MV” Valentine


The last time we highlighted a Stones cover was several years back upon the release of Alex Chilton’s Free Again Sessions from 1970 – specifically his proto-punk rendering of “Jumping Jack Flash”. Here, we find Bengali musician Ananda Shankar’s psychedelic sitar take on that tune (also from 1970) and the Doors’ “Light My Fire”, both via the Snow Flower lp.

Ananda Shankar :: Jumping Jack Flash
Ananda Shankar :: Light My Fire